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Who is Yumi Nu? Everything About the First Asian Plus-Size Model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Edition

Edduin Carvajal
May 17, 2022
09:40 P.M.

Model and singer-songwriter Yumi Nu became the first Asian plus-size model to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and she is related to a world-renowned DJ.


Yumi Nu's modeling career was primarily unknown until she appeared in the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Only one year later, she made it to the magazine's cover.

She worked with photographer James Macari in Montenegro and is one of the four celebrities chosen for the cover of the 2022 issue (Kim Kardashian, Ciara, and Maye Musk are the others). Here's everything you need to know about Yumi Nu.

Yumi Nu on May 11, 2022 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Yumi Nu on May 11, 2022 in New York City | Source: Getty Images


Although Nu was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on September 23, 1996, she is of Japanese and Dutch descent. Her family is filled with successful and artistic people, including her marriage and family therapist mother, Kana Grace Nootenboom, and "creative" father, Brent Nu.


Nu's grandfather was restauranteur Hiroaki "Rocky" Aoki, who shot to stardom for founding the Japanese cuisine restaurant chain Benihana. Her uncle is DJ and music producer Steve Aoki. Her aunt is actress and fashion model Devon Aoki.

Yumi Nu on July 23, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida | Source: Getty Images

Yumi Nu on July 23, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida | Source: Getty Images

Yumi Nu knew she wanted to be an entertainer at a young age, so she began getting singing lessons at 12 and writing songs at 15. She has released her music for Steve Aoki's Dim Mak Records.

When Nu announced she would be part of the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, she explained why it meant so much. Nu said that Asian women, and women in general, constantly face body shame. She added:

"Asian American culture can be confusing because we have this voice in our head saying 'cover up' and not be 'too much,' and then American culture is the opposite spectrum."




When Yumi Nu learned she would be on the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine cover, she couldn't stop shaking and crying, mainly because it was a surprise.

Clinical psychologist and YouTuber Dr. Jordan Peterson tweeted that [the cover] was not beautiful.

Her agents arranged a supposedly routine interview and career check-in, but halfway through it, MJ Day and other Sports Illustrated Swimsuit crew members showed up and revealed the 2022 cover with Nu on it.


She needed a few seconds to process it was not an actual interview but the magazine's cover reveal. Once that became clear, she could not speak and had full-body chills.

Being a cover model defied what she thought could be possible for her. Nu emphasized the importance of having more representation in the media so that more people could see themselves as beautiful.



Unfortunately, not everybody liked Yumi Nu's cover appearance. Clinical psychologist and YouTuber Dr. Jordan Peterson tweeted that it was not beautiful and backed up his comments with two links to scientific studies on attractiveness.

Several netizens reacted to his tweet by telling him that beauty standards

. Others claimed that the studies he shared did not substantiate his opinion. In any case, we celebrate Nu's appearance on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover.

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